As we move into Fall it becomes clear that life with COVID-19 is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. As we struggle to get through these times, and work to deal with our grief, more than ever it helps to consider self-care. While we care for those around us, we need to be diligent to also include acts of kindness, small or large, to ourselves. (According to Aesop, of fable fame: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”) There are many ways to offer ourselves that feeling of peace. Whether it’s a walk in the forest or a stroll by the sea, being in nature sits at the top of the self-care list.
And self-care has never been more critical as we mourn not just the dead and dying but our way of life, our routines and our rituals.
With COVID-19 very much a part of our lives, we have collective feelings of being uncomfortable or out of sorts. This feeling can be attributed to a global grief, and the antidote is being tender with ourselves – and others. Stressed out has become the new normal, and, clearly, it’s not healthy.
Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated.
But it’s also not just about trips to the spa for massages and facials. It’s the ways in which we can be kinder to ourselves and allow the feeling that we are “not quite right” just now. It means focusing on both the physical and mental aspects of our being.
Most articles offering suggestions on self-care have a common thread: be kind to yourself, get exercise, eat well, and something we may not always think of, dress well! The most important thing is to listen to what your body and spirit need. Some may benefit from spending time alone while others find comfort in the connection and company of others.
One suggestion on which everyone seems to agree is the well-being that comes of being in nature. Immersing ourselves in natural environments is not new. Many cultures know of the calming effects of being near the water or walking in the forest. In fact, the Japanese have been long-time advocates of the art and science of “Forest Bathing,” intended to slow us down and to use the five senses to connect us with our surroundings.
And being around, or in water has long proven to be therapeutic. Whether taking a bath or sitting on a beach, “Blue Mind” can make a significant improvement to our mental state. According to researcher Wallace J. Nichols, Blue Mind creates a peaceful, mood-altering effect.
Any steps we can take to lessen our discomfort are helpful. Remember those instructions when sitting on a plane, waiting to take off? In case of an emergency, put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others. A pandemic can certainly be considered an emergency and in order to care for those around us, we must make sure we are first taking care of ourselves.